New HPC Wales studentships bring inward investment to £1m

High Performance Computing (HPC) Wales has announced a new milestone in its efforts to attract inward investment to Wales. Seven new funded PhD studentships in computational science at Welsh universities have been announced as part of its collaboration with Fujitsu, taking the total inward investment it has attracted into Wales to £1m.

Part-funded by £24 million through the Welsh Government, including support from the European Regional Development Fund, HPC Wales is committed to boosting the Welsh economy by providing business and academic researchers with some of the most advanced computing technology in the world. In addition, HPC Wales is providing the training, outreach and technical support to exploit supercomputing technology effectively and power innovation.

Subject to contractual agreements,the new fully-funded studentships bring the total of funded projects to 14 and form part of the wider strategic collaboration between HPC Wales and Fujitsu, who are promoting the uptake of high performance computing (HPC) in the Welsh Government’s priority sectors.

The successful projects aim to advance innovative research in the advanced manufacturing, life sciences and environmental sectors and will use HPC Wales infrastructure, powered by Fujitsu PRIMERGY clusters. Studentship projects will also have access to collaboration with researchers and HPC specialists from Fujitsu Laboratories of Europe and the Technical Computing Solutions Unit of Fujitsu Limited.

David Craddock, Chief Executive Officer of HPC Wales, commented: “We are delighted to support these projects, which are at the cutting edge of innovative research. By facilitating close collaboration between universities and businesses, these projects look set to strengthen and support the growth of a number of key areas of the Welsh knowledge economy.”

One  studentship awardee is Dr David Willock of the Cardiff Catalysis Institute, Cardiff University. In collaboration with Beaumaris-based Nextek Innovations Ltd, he will use computer simulations to design and improve catalytic materials for the production of green chemical feedstock materials derived from agricultural waste. This will have a positive impact on the sustainable chemicals industry in Wales and further afield, as efficient catalysts reduce energy requirements and increase yields, leading to smaller chemical plant sizes with less local environmental impact.

Dr Willock said: “Our research will help contribute to a sustainable future, while helping power innovation and economic development in Wales. This is an exciting opportunity to put HPC expertise from the academic world into use in the commercial chemicals arena.”

Dr Michaela Bray and Professor Roger Falconer of the Hydro-environmental Research Centre at Cardiff University, together with collaborator Waterco, will investigate the impact of extreme weather events upon steep river basins throughout Wales.  This project will combine modelled climate data from the UK Met Office with a state of the art river-estuary flow model to undertake high-resolution climate and river flow modelling, contributing to more accurate flood maps for use in industry and by government agencies, planners and local authorities.

Fujitsu’s Masahiko Yamada, President of the Technical Computing Solutions Unit, said: “This is an important investment for Fujitsu, and we are proud to be involved in these projects in Wales.  By investing in these studentships, and by making Fujitsu researchers available for collaboration with Welsh scientists, we believe we can help accelerate and contribute to creating a more sustainable future. The studentships cover a diverse cross-section of areas, many of which are also of commercial value – and we are already seeing some extremely positive results.”